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Wedding Cake Tiers, Sizes and Servings: Everything You Need to Know

Make choosing the size, servings, and number of tiers a piece of (wedding) cake…

Whether you plan to decorate your own one-tier wonder, browsing for wedding trends on Instagram, or dream of a towering masterpiece created especially for your reception – it’s time to find out how much wedding cake you actually need. Here’s everything you need to know about wedding cake tiers, sizes and servings…

cutting Wedding Cake Tiers

Photo by Debby Hudson

What’s the History Behind Wedding Cake Tiers?

The stacked wedding cake tier delicacy originated in a medieval tradition whereby individual cakes were stacked up as high as possible, and the bride and groom were asked to kiss over the top of it.

A successful kiss – without the cakes tumbling down – meant a happy marriage.

Wedding Cake Tiers, Sizes and Servings rustic

Photo by Luis Quintero

How Many Tiers Make a Traditional Wedding Cake? 

A traditional wedding cake has three tiers, and each tier of a wedding cake has its own significance.

Tradition has it that the bottom tier is for eating at the ceremony, the middle tier for distributing after the event, and the top tier was saved.

As the traditional recipe is a fruit cake, which has a long shelf life, it’s quite safe to tuck into a slice a few years after the big day.

rustic tiers of wedding cake

What is the Tradition for the Top Tier of a Wedding Cake?

Traditionally, the top tier of the wedding cake was saved until the first child’s christening.

But when couples began to wait longer before starting a family, the significance of the top tier changed and is now known to be saved for the bride and groom’s first wedding anniversary.

Can you Have More or Less Than Three Tiers of a Wedding Cake?

Weddings are not a one-size-fits-all occasion, and more couples than ever are choosing to ditch the three-tier wedding cake tradition in favour of a single-tier alternative simply because of their budget.

You will also want to make sure you have enough cake to go around and feed all of your guests. On the other hand, it's best not to be left with more cake than you know what to do with at the end of the day. Especially if you’ll be jetting off on honeymoon straight after celebrations.

bride and groom cutting cake on wedding day

How Much Wedding Cake is Actually Needed for Guests?

Much like the making of a cake itself, it’s about striking the perfect balance between the different ingredients involved – so, in this case, your budget, number of guests, and aesthetic preferences.

If you find yourself going wide-eyed at cakes with height, you may feel that a stack of at least four tiers is essential, but the reality is that it could just be far too much cake and money! Luckily for you, though, cake makers have devised many creative solutions…

Rather than ordering additional, unnecessary tiers, why not request taller, slimmer cakes for each tier? These are very much en vogue right now, so most bakers will be happy to oblige, giving you the extra height without extra cake.

small three tiers of wedding cake

What are Dummy Tiers on a Wedding Cake?

Formed from a polystyrene base covered in icing and decorated to match the rest of the cake, dummy tiers can reduce waste, make your cake taller and slightly bring down the cost.

Do remember though that this tier will still take the same amount of time to decorate, so it won’t slice a huge chunk off the price! Often seen at wedding fairs, your guests will never guess that dummy tiers aren’t the real thing.

Wedding Cake Servings and Sizes

This easy-to-you guide below makes sizing up your tiers a piece of (wedding) cake, with the size and number of tiers matched to the number of guests…

serving sizes of wedding cake diagram

How Many People Will Your Wedding Cake Serve?

wedding cake diagram how many guests will it serve


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